Many people chose to avoid the dangers of sugar by replacing it with artificial sweeteners. However, a new study discovered that these substances come with their own risks. Namely, they might be linked to a higher risk of stroke and dementia. However, the study omitted causality and it might not be conclusive.
The study used a cohort of over 5,000 participants especially recruited for this research starting 1971. Since then, they had to complete surveys every four years and have regular check-ups. Initially, the purpose of the study was to see if beverages rich in sugar raised the risk of developing strokes or dementia.
A lot of people had to be eliminated from the cohort, as they had already experienced such issues or already were at risk. Thus, they remained with few participants, namely less than 3,000 in the stroke group and less than 1,500 in the dementia group.
Then, they split these groups based on how many sugary or diet drinks they consumed per week. However, the boundary between one group and the other was flexible, so that they would have more or less the same number of people in each group.
The group with more sugar consumed more than two sugary drinks per day, while the group with less sugar consumed three such drinks per week. The diet group was situated somewhere in the middle, with more than one drink per day. However, the study looked at different doses of sugar.
Researchers decided to make the study more complex by taking into account several factors. First of all, they looked at their sugar and diet drink consumption both since the last survey and at their cumulated intake since the last three surveys. Then, they split the participants into the stroke and dementia groups.
They also looked at social and demographic factors, such as age and level of education, at lifestyle factors, meaning that they looked how healthy were their diets, and, the most important, at medical factors. Blood pressure and cholesterol are key factors to consider in such a research.
The results showed no link whatsoever between sugary drinks and stroke or dementia, so their initial hypothesis proved untrue. However, they discovered that both strokes and dementia could be associated with diet soda consumption, but there were no dose or duration effects present.
Thus, it is not clear that diet beverages are direct causers of such health problems, but the results need a more thorough analysis before finding the conclusion.
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